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McAfee proclaims innocence, alters look to evade Belize police

John McAfee, the anti-virus software firm founder who's been missing since his neighbor's death, details his life on the run in Belize to a Wired editor.

November 14, 2012|By Laura J. Nelson, Los Angeles Times
  • Belize police have urged John McAfee to come forward, saying he is only a person of interest, rather than a murder suspect. McAfee reportedly fears he'll be killed if police find him. Above, a woman views a Facebook page belonging to McAfee.
Belize police have urged John McAfee to come forward, saying he is only a… (Karen Bleier, AFP/Getty…)

In another twist to an already bizarre story, the founder of the McAfee anti-virus software company contacted an American journalist Tuesday to maintain his innocence and chronicle how he has been evading police.

John McAfee, 67, has been missing since Sunday morning, when his next-door neighbor Gregory Faull, 52, was found dead in a pool of blood in a Belize beachfront home. On Tuesday, McAfee contacted Wired contributing editor Joshua Davis and said he's on the run, scared for his life — and did not commit murder.

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Belize police on Sunday said they wanted to question McAfee in what they described as a homicide investigation.

Davis tweeted the salient details, including the former CEO saying he feared being killed in custody and — when power was cut to his hiding spot — the grim summation that "this is it."

"Under no circumstances am I going to willingly talk to the police in this country," McAfee reportedly told the editor at the technology magazine. "You can say I'm paranoid about it but they will kill me, there is no question. They've been trying to get me for months. They want to silence me. I am not well liked by the prime minister. I am just a thorn in everybody's side."

As police raided his compound Sunday, McAfee told the writer that he hid in the sand with a cardboard box over his head so he could breathe, and spent the night on a mattress infested with lice. He has continued to change locations, according to the writer's tweets.

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"It was extraordinarily uncomfortable," McAfee told Wired. "But they will kill me if they find me."

Belize police urged McAfee to come forward Tuesday, saying he is only a person of interest, rather than a murder suspect. The police said they have detained an individual but declined to discuss details, citing the ongoing investigation.

Police have a vendetta against him, McAfee told Wired, and are trying to drive him out of Belize.

McAfee made his fortune when the anti-virus company that bears his name went public in 1992. He netted $100 million two years later when he sold his stock. Over the next 20 years, $100 million dropped to $4 million as he lost money to real estate investments, bad business ventures and bonds linked to Lehman Bros.

About five years ago, McAfee moved to a beachfront compound on Ambergris Caye island to lower his taxes, said Daniel Guerrero, the mayor of the town closest to the crime scene.

Belize police arrested McAfee in April and charged him with unlicensed drug manufacturing and possession of an unlicensed weapon, according to police news releases. McAfee said at the time that he planned to sue for false arrest, alleging the police arrested him because he refused to donate money to a local official.

Last week, Faull — a retired contractor from Florida — filed a complaint against McAfee with the local city council, Guerrero said. McAfee's security guards were trespassing on Faull's property, and McAfee's guard dogs were attacking passers-by, Faull's complaint said.

Faull's two-story apartment showed no signs of forced entry. A laptop and iPhone were missing, and police found a 9-millimeter Luger shell casing on the stairs, spokesman Raphael Martinez said.

Police believe McAfee is still in the country but have had little success in tracking him down, perhaps due in part to the latest information he shared with Davis — that he has radically altered his appearance.

laura.nelson@latimes.com

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